'Singlism' and the workplace | Arkansas Blog

Thursday, December 4, 2008

'Singlism' and the workplace

Posted By on Thu, Dec 4, 2008 at 6:27 AM

Have you read what Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell said about Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano's appointment to the Cabinet? She's perfect, Rendell said, because she has no family and thus "no life." She can devote 24 hours to the job.


Gail Collins of the NY Times presses Rendell on his stupid remark and he digs himself in further.

But the topic opens a whole box full of Pandoras about how we view the male and female roles in the family and, particularly, about something one writer has coined "singlism," an invidious form of discrimination against the unmarried, both men and women. It includes conferring higher virtue on the married and sticking the singles with tough duties (not to mention cost supplements on vacation deals.)

But it’s unmarried women at the top who often wind up portrayed as vestal virgins who live only to serve their chief executive. (Condoleezza Rice’s public image is so extreme that people must be wondering if she plans to immolate herself on the White House lawn during the inauguration.) Instead of being celebrated for their achievements, they wind up regarded as slightly fanatic.

And single women comprise between 43 percent and 51 percent of the adult women in the country, depending on how you count. They are universally regarded as folks with time on their hands, and thus the most likely recruits for taking care of aged parents, adjusting their schedules to accommodate their married friends and working overtime. “Employers ask you to cover for everyone else,” said DePaulo.

Which actually makes them sound busier than their married peers. So perhaps single Americans have too much life. It’s a wonder they have time for anything.

PS -- There are two very good reasons NOT to cheer Napolitano's appointment. 1) A Republican will become governor of Arizona. 2) Napolitano has been entirely too supportive of the human rights abuser Sheriff Joe Arpaio.

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